Ethio-SPaRe 4th Field Research Trip (31.10-11.12.2011)
Field Research and Digitizing mission 4:
Districts of activity: Eastern Tegray Zone, wärädas Gulä Mäkäda, Ganta Afäšum, Sa'si Sä'ada 'Emba, Endärta
Churches and monasteries visited:1. May Anbäsa; 2. 'Enda Mähsun; 3. Seddäyto Mika'el; 4. Tahtay Ruba Maryam; 5. Mäka'elo; 6. May Sä'ada Sellase and May Sä'ada Arba'etu Ensesa; 7. Säglat Qeddest Maryam; 8. Säglat Qeddus Mika'el; 9. Enda Hawaryat Petros wä-Pawlos; 10. Qända'ro Qeddus Qirqos; 11. Mänäwät Qeddus Giyorgis; 12. May Raza Täklä Haymanot Maryam; 13. Säwnä Maryam; 14. Wälwalo Qirqos; 15. Qälaqel Seyon Maryam; 16. Hangoda Mika'el; 17. Säbäla Maryam; 18. Senqata Ferewäyni Maryam; 19. Bet Mukha' Mika'el; 20. 'Addigrat Zä-Mika'el 'Arägawi; 21. 'Addi Cewa Mika'el
Mission report: read online or download PDF file.
- 1. May ˀAnbäsa Kidanä Mǝḥrät and ˀƎnda Mäḥṣun.
- 2. Sǝddäyto Mikaˀel.
- 3. Taḥtay Ruba Maryam.
- 4. Mäka'ǝlo Kidanä Mǝḥrät.
- 5. May Sä'ada Sǝllase, May Sä'ada 'Arba'tu ˀEnsǝsa.
- 6. Säglat Qǝddǝst Maryam, Säglat Qǝddus Mikaˀel.
- 7. 'Enda Hawaryat Petros wä-Pawlos.
- 8. Qända'ro Qəddus Qirqos.
- 9. Mänäwät Qəddus Giyorgis.
- 10. May Raza Täklä Haymanot Maryam.
- 11. Säwnä Maryam.
- 12. Wälwalo Qirqos.
- 13. Qälaqǝl Sǝyon Maryam.
- 14.Hangoda Mika'el.
- 15. Säbälä Maryam.
- 16. Senqata Frewäyni Maryam.
- 17. Bet Mukha Mika'el.
- Quoted bibliography.
In the period 31.10.-11.12.2011 the team of the Ethio-SPaRe project carried out the fourth field research mission. Based in ˁAddigrat and Wǝqro, the team greatly widened the geographic scope, working in Gulo Mäḵäda and the area around the city of ˁAddigrat, and also vast Ganta Afäšum, Saˁsi Ṣäˁada ˀƎmba and ˀƎndärta wärädas.
The team included project members from Hamburg University, representatives of the Tǝgray Culture and Tourism Agency (TCTA) , and members of the administration of the respective church administration offices. Within six weeks of intensive work, the team visited 21 sites and worked on the collections of 19 sites, some of them completely unknown or less known, or difficult to access. The excellent cooperation of the TCTA and the local church administration enabled the team to score good results: it recorded a few hundreds of manuscripts and collected plenty of historical information about the sites.
Besides, in the framework of the Ethio- SPaRe project, a team of manuscript restorers composed of N. Sarris (Greece) and M. Di Bella (Italy) worked during two weeks in ˁAddigrat (14.-27.11.2011), partly in rough field conditions, and repaired a number of old manuscripts recorded by the project team during the previous trips.
Below follow some brief observations on the 17 churches and monasteries visited, as well as photos of the sites and the most remarkable manuscripts and objects. The full-scale evaluation of the results is being underway at the Hiob Ludolf Center for Ethiopian Studies in Hamburg. The digital copies of the collected materials may be consulted in the main office of the Tǝgray Culture and Tourism Agency (Mäqäla) and in the Eastern Tǝgray Diocese (ˁAddigrat). In the report below, all datings and conclusions are to be considered preliminary.
The site of May ˀAnbäsa can be reached through the same road that leads to Koholo Yoḥannǝs (s. Report III). On passing by Koholo, one continues on the road above the river Gǝwa; after some 25-30 min drive, one has to leave the main road and descend the slanted slope on foot. The monastery of May ˀAnbäsa Däbrä Gännät Qǝdd<ǝst Kidanä Mǝḥrät stands above the river (which in the dry season reduces to a small stream), nearly hidden for the outside observer (fig. 1a). Under the monastic compound, there are small terraced fields and a picturesque waterfall interrupting the course of the river. Below the drop of the waterfall, there is a cave which is said to have formerly been a church dedicated to ˀabunä Zärˀa Buruk, and a small monastic community lived inside. Several interconnected caves, very wet and chilly, indeed show traces of rough construction work and use as dwellings.
Inside the compound of the monastery, there is one recent rectangular church, built in the traditional Tǝgrayan style, standing in front of the entrance gate. It stands on the place of an earlier, also rectangular, church that had been dismantled sometime in the mid-2000s. Another church, small and round, stands on the slope deep inside the monastic settlement, partly hidden by trees and thick vegetation. Today, it is used as sacristy (ˁǝqa bet).
The monastery of May ˀAnbäsa has a long history. According to the head (mämhǝr) of the community, ˀabba Ṣǝge Dǝngǝl Kidanä Maryam , it was founded under King “ˁAmdä Ṣen” (i.e., ˁAmdä Ṣǝyon I, r. 1318-48), by ˀabunä ˀAbrǝham “of Qata”, the same ˀabunä ˀAbrǝham who is also venerated in Koholo . Called here “ˀAbrǝham of May ˀAnbäsa”, he is considered the founder and the first head of the community . ˀAbunä Wäldä Tǝnśaˀe was ˀAbrǝham’s successor and the second head. He is said to have come from Waldǝbba riding a lion (ˀanbäsa), bringing tabots of Kidanä Mǝḥrat and Holy Trinity . Other prominent heads were Maḥṣäntä Maryam  and ˀabunä Täklä Haymanot who also rode a lion and lived during the “Time of the Princes” (Zämänä mäsafǝnt). Local tradition preserves an account about an early 18th-century (?) raid by Guttu-Oromo, during the time of mämhǝr Kidanä Maryam, when scores of monks were killed. The monastery suffered during the “Time of the Princes”, and was re-established by King Yoḥannǝs IV. The kings and local rulers are told to have revered May ˀAnbäsa. Vestments of King Yoḥannǝs IV are reportedly preserved in the monastery’s sacristy. Other rulers such as ras ˀAlula ˀƎngǝda , ras Mängäša  are said to have visited the place. Local tradition refers to May ˀAnbäsa as a community of very high status and one of the biggest in the area over many centuries .
A small nunnery called ˀƎnda Mäḥṣun, with 5-7 nuns, is located some 5 km away from May ˀAnbäsa, down along the valley of Gǝwa, in the hot and deserted lowland. The nunnery is under the administration of May ˀAnbäsa. '>Mäḥṣun was explained to us as contracted form for Maḥṣäntä Maryam, the prominent monk mentioned above. The nunnery is said to have been large in the past; ruined dwellings on the slope some 300m away from the current settlement  are allegedly the former houses of the nuns. It was impossible to get information about the history of the community or find out in what way Maḥṣäntä Maryam was related to the place. There is a ṣäbäl-source in the vicinity of the community; the church of the monastery, small and round, resembles the old church of May ˀAnbäsa (fig. 1b). On the way back, an old, deserted cave-church dedicated reportedly to ˀabunä Yasay was spotted below the road . Local people repeatedly said that until recently the entire area between Koholo and ˀƎnda Mäḥṣun had been the abode of many baḥtawi-hermits.
Indeed, in contrast to more “transparent” parts of ˀƎndärta, the area along the river Gǝwa between Koholo and ˀƎnda Mäḥṣun appears to have been a place of monastic retreat for both coenobitic communities and hermits, pursuing different ways of monastic life. Its northern part (ˀƎnda Mäḥṣun) is directly linked to Tämben, the most traditional and conservative region with the developed monastic tradition.
In late 1930s the community of May ˀAnbäsa encompassed 40 monks ; in the post-war time of Ḫaylä Śǝllase I, up to 80 monks. It declined after 1974, under the military government (Därg), and only recently started reviving. Currently, there are ca. 15 monks and novices living in the monastery. The community follows strict ˀandǝnnät-rule, and, though poor, seeks to achieve complete self-subsistence. The burden of running and administering two communities, taking care of the elderly monks and providing the church service for the local people is to the biggest part carried by the head of the community, strong and energetic ˀabba Ḥǝsan who entered May ˀAnbäsa some 5 years ago.
The manuscript collection of May ˀAnbäsa is very extensive and complex. It possesses, however, no manuscripts dating into the period around its purported foundation time (14th century). At the same time, the range of works included into the collection definitely points to a strong, long-existing monastic community and tradition of monastic learning. Below, there are some brief preliminary observations and examples of selected books.
The collection possesses several Gospel books (three Four Gospels, and ten manuscripts containing the Gospel of John). One of the Four Gospel books seems to be the “Golden Gospel”, written by a well-trained hand ( fig. 2a)  and containing the land charter of May ˀAnbäsa, issued by King Yoḥannǝs IV (fig. 2b) .
It was possible to identify two oldest books of the collection, both are high quality manuscripts and in good condition. One is the manuscript containing two hagiographic works: the Vita of Kiros (Gädlä Kiros)  and the Vita of Nob (Gädlä Nob) (fig. 3). Dating to late 16th/early 17th century, it was in the possession of a certain Täklä Haymanot; it is possible that this was indeed the very Täklä Haymanot who was the head of the community during the time of Säbagadis . The second is a fine (late 16th-century?) Psalter manuscript , with numerous commentaries in Gǝˁǝz and Amharic. The codex has somewhat untypical ornamental dividers for separating groups of ten Psalms from each other and no traditional Ethiopic “titles of Psalms” (fig. 4a, fig. 4b).
One of the manuscripts of the collection has been known since 1974, due to a publication by R. Cowley . This is a thick, nearly square, elegant codex with miscellaneous content, including an old-Amharic text published by R. Cowley ( fig. 5); but a closer look does not support the dating of the manuscript he had proposed . More reasonable dating could be the second half of the 19th century. Moreover, a few more manuscripts of the collection, attributable to the second half of the 19th century, are written in similar type of script, hinting for a possible provenance from one and the same “workshop” – a group of scribes working in same place who learned within the same tradition and possessed similar, though not identical handwriting; cp. the Gospel book mentioned before (fig. 2a); a manuscript of the ˀArganonä wǝddase (“Organ of Praise”; fig. 6), a copy of the Wǝddase ˀamlak (“Praise to God”; fig. 7); and the second Four Gospel book (fig. 8) . The picture will become clearer once the entire collection has been carefully studied.
Despite the substantial size of the collection, there is a remarkable lack of illuminated manuscripts; of those few with images, nearly all are very recent (20th century). Perhaps this can be explained by the “stern”, “sober” character of the collection, intended for a large coenobitic community, living according to strict rules, where miniatures were thought to be “entertaining” and therefore inappropriate for the monks . Among the lesser known or unknown works discovered in the collection there are the Vita of ˀAbrǝham of Qata/May ˀAnbäsa; the mälkǝˀ-hymn in honour of Wäldä Tǝnśaˀe and the Vita of Maḥṣäntä Maryam .
During the work of the project team, three bindings were repaired by the local scribe and binder märigeta Ḥarägäwäyni .
The church Sǝddäyto Däbrä Gännät Qǝddus Mikaˀel is located in the interior of the Gulo Mäkäda wäräda, in a part which is difficult to access. The large rectangular church of Sǝddäyto, built recently to replace the old, dismantled, building, stands at the foot of a cliff (fig. 9). On the slope above the church, there is a small chapel of Kidanä Mǝḥrät. Above the chapel, a crude stone wall is visible at the cliff, hiding a cavity apparently with an old burial inside.
The church possesses a complete late 15th-/early 16th-century Four Gospel manuscript, the “Golden Gospel” of Sǝddäyto. A few notes are found between the Gospels, which obviously contain important information, but are not easy to understand and interpret. A note on fol. 146vb (fig. 10a) refers to a certain Ḫaylä Krǝstos as the donor of the book and founder of the church . Another note, written by a more recent (?) hand, concerns the “the beginning of the lineage” of Ḫaylä Krǝstos and probably relates an event from the life of one of his descendants (fig. 10b). The handwriting of both notes is posterior to the first half of the 16th century, but looks older than 19th century. Local tradition does not recall Ḫaylä Krǝstos, nor does it preserve any other information on the history of the church. The people claim that the church was founded in 468 E.C., but they could not explain from which source they took the date.
Two other notes contained in the Four Gospel book are possibly contemporary to the manuscript, i.e. date back to the first half of the 16th century. These notes, a shorter one and a longer one, are interrelated and were probably conceived as documents complementing each other. Unfortunately, the longer note is very difficult to decipher because of the faded ink. The shorter one is well legible and probably refers to the land occupied by the church building and compound (fig. 10c).
Among other books, the church collection possesses a badly damaged manuscript of the Gǝbrä Ḥǝmamat (fig. 11) from the first half of the 16th century; a large, richly illuminated collection of Marian texts (Nägärä Maryam etc.), dating probably to the first half of the 19th century (fig. 12). A recent manuscript of the Vita of Mäzgäbä Śǝllase proves the influence of the monastery Gundä Gunde. The church has recently acquired a tabot of the Righteous Ones of ˁAddiqäḥarsi Ṗaraqliṭos (s. Report I). As in some other churches, the presence of a tabot of Libanos hints to the old veneration tradition spread in Gulo Mäḵäda.
The church of (Däbrä Bǝrhan) Taḥtay Ruba (Qǝddǝst) Maryam is only 3-4 km away from Sǝddäyto. Three churches are located at the site: a picturesque chapel of St. Mary on a hardly accessible rock (visible from Sǝddäyto, s. fig. 13); and two rectangular churches below: a smaller and older one, and a large recently built one (fig. 14). The gatehouse is a remarkable, huge structure (fig. 15), similar to those found in some other places of the area (Qärsäbär, s. Report I; or in Aḥzära, s. Report II).
The Four Gospel book of the church dates back to the 18th century, and it seems to be a crude copy of an older Gospel manuscript which did not survive (fig. 16). The church possesses a valuable manuscript of the hymn collection ˀƎgziˀabǝḥer Nägśä (“The Lord Reigns”) which is ascribed to King Zärˀa Yaˁqob (1434-68). The manuscript, possibly dating back to the second half of the 16th century, is in relatively good condition and, as a rare case, still preserves the original binding (figs.17a, 17b, 17c, 17d, 17e). An evidence of the link to Gundä Gunde is found in an 18th-century hagiographic dossier of Mäzgäbä Śǝllase (Vita, Miracles and mälkǝˀ-hymn), which was written by a poorly trained scribe who had difficulties in following the ruling. The manuscript is remarkable due to the peculiar style of the miniatures (fig. 18a, fig.18b). A 17th-century (?) fine hymnody manuscript, written in one column, contains (figs. 19a, fig. 19b) a reference to Gundä Gunde in a “protective prayer” added on the protection folia preceding the text; a donation note mentions Mäzgäbä Śǝllase among other individuals.
Local people could not give any information on the founders of the church, except the commonly repeated statement that it was founded in the time of King Säˁaldoba. The names of Mäzgäbä Śǝllase and ˁƎzra, another head of Gundä Gunde, are only vaguely remembered. Though quite extensive, the manuscript collection of Taḥtay Ruba covers only a small portion of the history of the area, which reaches back into a pre-historical period: a proof for that are rock pictures found in a shallow niche under the rock, depicting human beings and animals (fig. 20, fig. 21a, fig. 21b).
Mäkaˀǝlo Mäkanä Lǝˁul Kidanä Mǝḥrät is located not far from the church of ˀƎmbäyto Täklä Haymanot (s. Report I), on the same side of the road, but one has to leave the road, pass between the rocks and climb up the steep slope (fig. 22). One can see the site from the road. Mäkaˀǝlo Kidanä Mǝḥrät is still considered a monastery (gädam), but the monastic community disappeared long ago. Local tradition claims, with a reference to an undefined written source (“a book”), that the first sanctuary was founded there in 720 E.C., and was then destroyed by Queen Judith/Gudit in 920, and in the 16th century again by ˀAḥmäd Grañ. King Gäbrä Mäskäl donated gwǝlt-land to Mäkaˀǝlo along with other “44 monasteries” of the area. It was also reported that, over the time, the books of the monastic community got dispersed: some went to Gundä Gunde, some went to Däbrä Maˁṣo; a Gospel book of Mäkaˀǝlo was taken to ˀAksum. As to the time of the local monastic community’s decline, it reportedly happened after the wars of Aḥmäd Grañ. The inhabitants of the hamlet near Mäkaˀǝlo stress that all of them are consecrated priests or deacons and that their ancestors served in the church for centuries. Anyone who does not want, by whatever reason, to be a consecrated servant should leave the settlement.
The collection of Mäkaˀǝlo is quite moderate; there was, though, a valuable, voluminous manuscript of the Täˀamrä Maryam (“Miracles of Mary”) dating back to the second half of the 16th century (fig. 23), with miniatures probably inserted later (fig. 24). A finely written Missal mentions John as the Patriarch of Alexandria and Sinoda as the Metropolitan of Ethiopia, though the handwriting hints rather to a later period, at least mid-18th century (fig. 25).
The complex of May Ṣäˁada is located in the part of Gulo Mäkäda where the concentration of the churches is quite impressive. It includes three churches, of them two in use: at the foot of the hill, there is an active church dedicated to Holy Trinity (Śǝllase; fig. 26a); on the top, there is a church dedicated to the Four Heavenly Creatures (ˁArbaˀtu ˀƎnsǝsa, still in use), and another one, of the same dedication (now out of use, fig. 26b). All churches are rectangular, built in the traditional Tǝgrayan style. Local tradition relates that the Trinity church was established by ras Sǝbḥat ˀArägawi, the governor of Tǝgray (d. 1914); the upper church is said to have been established by King Säyfä Arˁad (r. 1344-71). There has never been a monastic community at May Ṣäˁada.
Today, the May Ṣäˁada manuscript collection unites the books from all three churches. It is extensive but modest in terms of quality and age of the manuscripts. The Four Gospel book is possibly a copy of an older manuscript which did not survive. Dating probably to the 19th century, the codex is crudely manufactured and written (fig. 27), with one miniature in a peculiar, “rough” style ( fig. 28). The Gospel book contains a note which is composed of a genealogy of an individual and a short record concerning the foundation of the church by the 14th-century King Säyfä Arˁad ( fig. 29). The note was probably copied from an old manuscript  and gave ground for the church foundation story. Among other manuscripts, a small-size book containing magic ˀasmat-prayers and the Prayer of St. Mary on Golgotha is interesting due to the drawings (figs. 30a, 30b) . Indeed, the collection possesses a few manuscripts donated by ras Sǝbḥat, among them a Psalter with a beautiful frontispiece decoration, the picture of the Lion (of Judah), and fine ornamental bands for separating the usual parts of the Psalter, elaborate with otherwise not very common anthropomorphic and zoomorphic motifs (figs. 31a, 31b).
The site of Säglat has been known since quite a long time . It is located in the same valley as ˁAddi Qiyaḥto Maryam (with the flattop mount Däbrä Maˁṣo in the background). To reach Säglat, one has to pass near ˁAddi Qiyaḥto and the small white church of Gäbrä Mänfäs Qǝddus ˁAddi Addikwaˀ (ˀƎnda Gabǝr). The site accommodates two churches: the more recent Säglat Qǝddus Mikaˀel on the rock and the older Säglat Qǝddǝst Maryam, with ancient columns and burial in the compound, located on the plain (fig. 32, fig. 33). Local tradition has it that the churches, today with one tabot each, were founded in the 5th and 15th “year of mercy” respectively (?) under King Gäbrä Mäsqäl; there was a monastic community whose prominent head ˀabba Kǝflä Maryam lived “before the reign of Ḫaylä Śǝllase” .
Despite the ancient age of the site, the collection of Säglat has no old books. The earliest seems to be an early 17th-century (?) hymnody bound with two leather covers, containing the Dǝggwa and the appended penance text Mäṣḥafä Qedär ( fig. font-weight:normal 34) . There are some samples of a local (?) handwriting style, with letters tending to square, angular shapes: a late 18th/19th-century (?) Dǝrsanä Mikaˀel and Mäṣḥafä Ṭǝmqät ( fig. 35, fig. 36). Some manuscripts show interesting scribal and manuscript making practices, such as the Missal dating to 1777-79  with infixed quire containing a passage from The Lord’s Prayer: “The hosts of the angels of the Savior of the World stand before the Savior of the World … the Apostles followed his faith”, executed by a more recent hand ( fig. 37a, fig. 37b) .
The church ˀƎnda Ḥawaryat Ṗeṭros wä-Ṗawlos is located behind May Ṣäˁada Śǝllase. The path to the church is difficult; one enters between the hills, passes a small white church of Gäbrä Mänfäs Qǝddus, and descends into a valley in which the large church of Apostles Peter and Paul stands ( fig. 38, fig. 39; the locality, though, is called ˀƎnda Ḥawaryat, i.e. “House/ church of the Apostles”). According to local tradition, the church was founded in the time of King Säˁaldobba; there was a monastic community that declined and disappeared after the war of Aḥmäd Grañ .
The church collection possesses a fine, voluminous late 15th-century manuscript with the collection Gädlä Ḥawaryat (the apocryphal Vitae of the Apostles) (fig. 40); it is unclear for the moment whether the book could be a foundational donation to the church or was acquired in the course of time. Among other manuscripts, there is a 18th-century collection of hagiographic texts devoted to Mäzgäbä Śǝllase whose veneration is very popular in Gulo Mäḵäda . The manuscript, worn, written by not very well trained hand and somewhat crudely manufactured, is illuminated, and the iconographic program and the style of the miniatures resemble the Vita of Mäzgäbä Śǝllase of Taḥtay Ruba Maryam (fig. 41a, fig. 41b; cp. figs. 18a, 18b above). The Four Gospel book of ˀƎnda Ḥawaryat is written by a mid-19th-century scribe whose hand  was already spotted in the Dǝrsanä Mikaˀel manuscripts of May ˀAbˀa Maryam and Golˁa Yoḥannǝs (s. Report III).
The church Qändaˁro Däbrä Ḫayl Qǝddus Qirqos is located north-east from the ˁAddigrat, on one of the hills overlooking the town. A large rectangular church in the broad compound is half-hidden by high trees ( fig. 42) . It has under its administration another one, dedicated to St. George (Qändaˁro Qǝddus Giyorgis)  which has been recently built in a more accessible locality on the brink of the urban area. Local tradition stresses the ancient age of the sanctuary, which existed already in the “Old Testament time” (Yä-ˀOrit). Local people say that some old remains were found during the construction works at the church. A monastic community is said to have existed but disappeared when the last monks died.
The manuscript collection of the church possesses a valuable 16th-century Four Gospel book written in a fine 16th-century hand ( fig. 43) with a single, unusual miniature showing a symbolical depiction of the nine main feasts “of our Lord” as seven saints ( fig. 44). Among other books, there is a manuscript of Gädlä Zä-Mikaˀel Arägawi (“Vita of Zä-Mikaˀel Arägawi”) dating to the second third of the 17th century, which appears to be the oldest copy of the text recorded so far by the project team . The manuscript is remarkable also due to a monastic genealogy following the Vita ( fig. 45)  and a royal (?) genealogy in Amharic, which occupies one and a half of the codex’s endleaves . The collection possesses an interesting Synaxarion manuscript (the first half of the year) written, unusually, in two columns. The age of the manuscript is difficult to define  but it seems to be one of the oldest Synaxarions among those recorded by the project (fig. 46) .
Mänäwät Giyorgis ˀƎnda Maryam, a modest gäṭär-church, can be reached from the town of ˁƎdaga Ḥamus via ˁAddi Qäläbäs. The church stands in a green picturesque valley partly surrounded by trees ( fig. 47). Local tradition recounts that it was founded by däǧǧač Säbagadis who set up the tabot of St. George . Indeed, a few codices of the church collection were donated by Säbagadis (mentioned by his baptismal name Za-Mänfäs Qǝddus): a Gospel book with crude miniatures ( fig. 48a, fig. 48b) and a richly illuminated Gädlä Giyorgis (“Vita of St. George”) (fig. 49). However, the church might have existed also before the time of Säbagadis who thus only re-established it sometime in the beginning of the 19th century. A hint to this is a 16th-century fragment that has been found included in one of the manuscripts as an endleaf.
A few interesting historical items have been recorded at the site, all in good condition: un umbrella (ǧanṭǝla) manufactured in the “pre-modern” way, not on the base of an industrially made umbrella; two old-nägarit drums said to be drums of Säbagadis; a mäsob-basket covered by textile decorated with metal pendants and plaques, with a votive inscription incised on a metal tablet (fig. 50a, fig. 50b) .
The church of May Raza Täklä Haymanot is a remote gäṭär-church which can be reached through ˁƎdaga Ḥamus, via the road to Gäblen; at one point, one has to leave the road and descend into a gorge. The rectangular church dedicated to Täklä Haymanot stands at the place where the gorge ends and opens into a plain (fig. 51). The church is difficult to reach; it has not apparently been properly investigated before .
According to a local tradition, the church was founded by däǧǧač Säbagadis who established the tabot of St. Mary. Ca. 30-35% of the painted surface of the walls of mäqdäs and narthex has perished or is in very poor condition. Those more or less preserved depict besides the iconographic program usual for that type of church numerous “laic” scenes such as hunting, processions, war events (fig. 52, fig. 53), and mention and show different personalities, starting from Säbagadis (fig. 54, fig. 55). There is also a votive picture of the person who commissioned the paintings, ras Sǝbḥat ˀArägawi, together with the members of his family, accompanied by an extensive votive inscription (fig. 56). According to this text, the paintings lang=AMH ( or at least a part of them lang=AMH ) were executed in 1890 A.D.  whereas the church was founded 61 years before, i.e. in 1829 . The paintings are not ancient but still of significant value and should be properly studied by art historians as May Raza is one of a few rectangular churches of East Tǝgray which were not reconstructed in the course of the 20th century and whose original murals escaped destruction and repainting.
The oldest codex of the church collection is the magnificent 15th-century manuscript of Gǝbrä ḥǝmamat, already reported. The Four Gospel book of the church was donated by ras Sǝbḥat ˀArägawi. Among other interesting books, the church collection possesses a fine, illuminated manuscript with the Gädlä Täklä Haymanot (“Vita of Täklä Haymanot”; fig. 57a, fig. 57b), with a colophon referring to 1887 , and a few more manuscripts dating back to Yoḥannǝs IV’s time, like a Missal ( fig. 58) and a copy of the Gädlä Gäbrä Mänfäs Qǝddus (“Vita of Gäbrä Mänfäs Qǝddus”) (fig. 59); a manuscript of the treatise ˀAmmǝstu ˀaˁmadä mǝśṭir (“Five Pillars of Mystery”) with early 18th-century (?) small-size folia containing the hymn ˀAkkonu bǝˀǝsi (praising St. Mary) infixed between the endleaves ( fig. 60). Among the other recent manuscripts, of particular interest is a mid-20th century manuscript of the Vita of Gäbrä Mänfäs Qǝddus, with a peculiar example of personal devotion: a small photo of the commissioner is pasted below the frontispiece miniature of Gäbrä Mänfäs Qǝddus (fig. 61).
The remote site of Säwnä (Säwne) Däbrä Sina Däbrä Gännät Maryam is located close to the border between the Tǝgray and ˁAfar regions, but is accessible thanks to a good road from the town of ˁƎdaga Ḥamus. Säwnä became known thanks to Gigar Tesfaye who visited the site some time in 1972-74 . This site comprises two churches in a spacious compound, a very recent one (built 1997 A.M.; fig. 62) and an older one whose age, however, does not exceed a few dozens of years. Both churches are neatly painted inside and outside .
A small manuscript containing the history of the church in Amharic, reported by Gigar Tesfaye , did not come up and the priest interviewed by the team most probably never consulted it. According to him, the church of Säwnä was founded “13 years after Aksum was raised” (?), by a certain Bǝrhan ˁOda . Further on, the “history of the church” reports of a certain ras ˁƎšet, who caused the document be written in Gondär, on the 12th year of the reign of King Fasilädäs . The old (14th-century?) cross of the church, also reported by Gigar Tesfay, was in place, as well as the oldest and most remarkable manuscript of the collection, the richly illuminated Four Gospel book , probably dating to the first half of the 16th century. The site is located some 20 km away from Gundä Gunde but today there are no visible traces referring to possible historical links between Säwne and Gundä Gunde, except the style of the miniatures of the Gospel book . Other manuscripts of the collection, though numerous, were of recent date, with the exception of a nicely written 18th-century (?) Psalter containing two documents written on infixed leaves. One of them ( fig. 63) appears to be a record concerning the acquisition of parcels by different individuals, written by the same hand as the main text.
The church of Wälwalo Däbrä Bǝrhan Qirqos can be reached by the same road as Säwne and is located half-way to the latter. One has to turn left at the small town of Walwälo and proceed several minutes along a side-road. The church became known chiefly thanks to Gigar Tesfaye .
The contemporary church building (fig. 64) was built in the early 1970s. Being definitely an old foundation, Wälwalo Qirqos has an exceptionally large number of tabots (more than 20). Local tradition claims that the church was established by King ˁAlameda, and re-established by King Gäbrä Mäsqäl. The third time the church was renovated by someone whom the interviewed priest referred to as “ṭǝrar [ǧanṭǝrar?] Bäzabbǝh” (?). A few remains of the older church building(s), such as four decorated stone columns standing inside the church, have been documented . Interesting features not reported before are structures in the compound of the church: in front of the entrance gate, there is a large and apparently old hǝdmo-house. The people were uncertain as to the purpose of the house and the time of its construction. Finally, they described it as a house for community meetings, but its unusual position and internal structure (s. figs. 65a, 65b, 65c) may be suggestive of other former use . color:red
The 19th-century (?) Gospel book of the church has an unusual feature: the miniature of St. John the Evangelist is placed not at the frontispiece of the Gospel of John, but at the end of the manuscript, on an endleaf. It is preceded by a picture of the donor painted on the verso-side of the last folio of the regular text quire ( fig. 66). The place usually reserved for the miniature of St. John is occupied by a “laic” scene of elephant hunting, probably depicting the donor as the main character. A donation note mentions a certain Wäldä Yoḥannǝs and the name of the church as Qirqos zä-Laḥlen. color:red Today, the name Laḥlen does not seem very common or is perhaps even out of use .
Among other books, the modest collection of Wälwalo Qirqos possesses a fine late-17th-century Missal (fig. 67) ; an elegant 18th-century (?) manuscript of Dǝrsanä Sänbät (“Homily of the Sabbath”) which was donated by a certain Wäldä Śǝllase  and carefully copied by the scribe Mǝṣlalä Iyäsus, who is styled as “a beloved one of blatta Kasa”  (figs. 68a, 68b). The manuscript contains an extensive, complex and hardly understandable note in Amharic (figs. 68b, 68c) about the ancestors and relatives of the donor. A carefully written collection of hagiographic works of Qirqos/ St. Cyriacus (Vita, Miracles, mälkǝˀ-hymn) which can be dated probably to the first half of the 19th century ( fig. 69), was donated by a certain Habtä Śǝllase, according to the supplication at the end of the text, and written by priest Ḫaylä Iyäsus, the head of the church (rǝˀǝsä däbr) and “head of the priests” (liqä kahǝnat).
The rock-hewn church Qälaqǝl Ṣǝyon Maryam is located two or three kilometers away from Wälwalo Qirqos, on a rock (fig. 70) . A magnificent view over a large area opens from its top. A few houses stand at the foot of the rock. A path leads to the church at the accessible side of the rock. The original rock-hewn structure is hidden by the rectangular narthex looking like a church of the common Tǝgrayan type, and it serves today as sanctuary (figs. 71a, 71b) . An open burial place is located in a cavern on the western side of the rock slope, containing a small pile of bones (said by the locals to originate from the Old Testament time, “yä-ˀOrit”). Local tradition claims that the church was founded by the Aksumite Kings Abrǝha and Aṣbǝḥa and that many books were donated by däǧǧazmač Säbagadis.
The manuscript collection contains a number of fine manuscripts. Many of them are afflicted by humidity and water since the place where they are stored – inside the church, not in a separate ˁǝqa bet sacristy – is very humid and cold. The precious one-quire 14th-century manuscript (locally referred to as Säˁatat, Horologium), reported by Gigar Tesfaye, has been found safe and in good condition (fig. 72) . Besides, the church collection possesses a Four Gospel manuscript dating probably to the mid 18th century . The sumptuous manuscript is not illuminated but, thanks to its unusually large size (307 folia), fine handwriting (with very large, carefully written letters), fine white parchment and very carefully produced tooled ornaments on the covers (figs. 73a, 73b), it can be considered one of the most remarkable manuscripts of the area. Unfortunately, nearly all additional notes contained in the manuscript have been washed out. One of them, in the first folio of the Canon tables, has survived; it refers to the commemoration (täzkar) of ras ˁƎšet . Most probably, he is the same person as the one who is mentioned in the “history” of Säwnä Maryam (s. above), a 17th-century (?) representative of the local elite whose identity remains to be clarified. As in the other churches, a few books were indeed donated by däǧǧazmač Säbagadis (Za-Mänfäs Qǝddus). Among them, there is a Synaxarion for the second half of the year with the name of the original commissioner/donor deleted and the name Za-Mänfäs Qǝddus crudely written by a secondary hand. The handwriting looks somewhat anterior to the time of Säbagadis ( fig. 74) and resembles, or maybe is even identical to, the hand attested in the Synaxarion of Däbrä Gännät Kidanä Mǝḥrät Mäkodˁä (s. Report II, fig. 50) . One of the collection’s hymnody books, an early 19th-century Dǝggwa, had a fine depiction of the hagiographic scene known from the Vita of St. Yared: King Gäbrä Mäsqäl delighted by St. Yared’s singing is unintentionally piercing the foot of the latter with his stock ( fig. 75).
Apart from the manuscripts, the church possesses an old-type wooden mänbärä tabot with carved decoration.
Ḥangoda Mikaˀel or Ḥangoda (Ḥangwäda) Däbrä Mǝḥrät Qǝddus Mikaˀel is a church located in a remote, hardly accessible corner of Saˁsi Ṣäˁada ˀƎmba. The area is situated not far from the Ḥawzen plain which lies further to the south. The church has been known to scholars since 1970s . There is no direct road to Ḥangoda. The best way to reach the place is to leave the main road approximately half-way between ˁƎdaga Ḥamus and Sǝnqata, descend to the right (west), and have a difficult 2-3 hour walk across a ragged plain. The site is located on a narrow, prolonged cliff at the place where Ḥangoda merges with another smaller river. The church and the gatehouse stand on a kind of terrace in the rock and are accessible through a solid modern staircase (fig. 76, fig. 77). One structure (sacristy?) is located on the top of the cliff. One more (house for communal meeting or dwelling of the nuns?) is located below the church. Both rivers are nearly dry during the dry season ( fig. 78) but probably are very difficult or impossible to cross during the rainy season when the church is encircled by water from three sides. The magnificent gorge below the church is said to have been an abode of the hermits. Indeed, the slopes of the gorge show some features that could be interpreted as traces of construction activities (fig. 79). Farther in the gorge there is a cave with the entrance closed by a half-ruined wall. The local people were somewhat inconclusive about its origin .
Local tradition claims that the church was founded in the time of King ˁAlˁameda, and re-established by ˀǝḉḉäge (sic!) Täklä Haymanot, the famous saint from Šäwa, under King Yǝkunno ˀAmlak (1270-85). Afterwards the church declined and “disappeared” and was re-established by däǧǧazmač ˀAˀǝdawä Krǝstos under King Bäkaffa (r. 1721-30) .
Only a portion of the historical part of the collection (profoundly renovated in the 20th century) has survived, but the older codices are still in relatively good condition, with historical bindings disturbed less than usual. The Four Gospel manuscript of Ḥangoda, written by a careful well-trained hand ( fig. 80) contains a valuable note (fig. 81). Obviously linked to the oral tradition, it tells that the manuscript was bought (and donated?) by ˀabeto ˀAˀǝdawä Krǝstos and that the construction of the church of St. Michael at Ḥangoda took place at the same time, under King Bäkaffa. Both manuscripts containing two parts of the Synaxarion apparently date back to the same time and might be related to ˀabeto ˀAˀǝdawä Krǝstos . The two codices partly retain original binding including parts made of untooled leather. In the manuscript containing the first part of the Synaxarion a certain ˁƎnqwä Śǝllase is mentioned as the scribe. In the manuscript with the second part, the Synaxarion is followed by a rare apocryphal apocalyptic text commonly known as the “Wisdom of Sibyl” (Ṭǝbäbä Sabela)  written on added leaves and by a different but not recent hand. Besides, the collection contains a fine hymnody manuscript, with an indication in the prologue to the Dǝggwa that the manuscript was started in the 18th year of the reign of King ˀIyasu ( fig. 82) . A fine illuminated copy of the Dǝrsanä Mikaˀel (“Homily of St. Michael”), probably dating to the 18th century ( fig. 83), shows an interesting practice of Ethiopian manuscript-making. A bigger-size folio with a miniature is folded at the edges (fig. 84) and normally remains in that condition (unfolded only when it is necessary, to see the entire picture). The Dǝrsanä Mikaˀel of Ḥangoda, an example of the “average quality” miniature painting and scribal art, again proves that starting from the 18th century the work enjoyed increasing popularity in North Ethiopia.
Ṣäbäla Däbrä Gännät Maryam is one of the two ecclesiastic institutions of Saˁsi Ṣäˁada ˀƎmba which are today regarded as gädam . The church stands some 10 km to the south from Sänqaṭa and can be reached by a rugged side-road. It is not easy to reach, despite its relative proximity to the main road. The church is rather new, built in the traditional Tǝgrayan style ( fig. 85). The huge flat mountain of Ṣäˁada ˀƎmba is visible in the distance, it is said to have originally been the place of the Sänqaṭa town.
Local tradition claims that the monastic community was founded by King Zärˀa Yaˁqob at Ṣäbäla “in the year 30” . It was destroyed during the invasion of ˀAḥmäd Grañ. The monastic community was not re-established. Today, the books are kept far from the church in one of the private houses.
Despite its modest size and age, the collection contains a few interesting and valuable items. Unfortunately, the old Gospel Book of the church was substituted, some 50-70 years ago, for a new manuscript. The church collection possesses a late 18th-early 19th century Dǝrsanä Mikaˀel with crude miniatures painted in a peculiar style (fig. 86a, fig. 86b). A truly remarkable manuscript of the collection is the one with the Täˀamrä Maryam (“Miracles of Mary”). The codex is composite. Its main part dates probably to the 17th century ( fig. 87a) but a fine infixed miniature can be possibly attributed to an earlier period (fig. 87b). A few quires were included in the manuscript in the late 19th or 20th century (cp. fig. 87c). There is at least one colophon in the manuscript referring to the 250th year of grace (1674/75 A.D.), a dating which may be assumed for the main hand.
Sǝnqaṭa Fǝrewäyni (Däbrä Ṣǝge Qǝddǝst) Maryam, a rectangular, brightly painted church standing in a spacious compound, is the main church of the small town of Sǝnqaṭa  (fig. 88). Local tradition claims that its foundation took place in the time of King ˀIyasu . The small collection of the church includes, among other books, includes a 18th-century manuscript with the theological treatise Haymanotä ˀAbäw (“Faith of the Fathers”, fig. 89). A number of small-size manuscripts is in private possession, such as the 18th-century manuscript containing the Prayer of St. Mary on the mount of Golgotha (Sǝnä Golgota, fig. 90).
The rock-hewn church of Bet Mukaˁ (Qǝddus) Mikaˀel  is located farther to the south along the road to Mäqälä, a few kilometers away from the side-road leading to Ṣäbäla, and not far from the well-known rock-hewn church of the Apostles Peter and Paul (ˀƎnda Ṗeṭros wä-Ṗawlos). The Bet Mukaˁ church is located at the foot of an overhanging cliff. A more recent narthex built on a high podium was added to the original church (fig. 91). Behind the church there is a ṣäbäl-source hidden by the trees. Those seeking cure sit and sleep under the cliff at the entrance gate of the church. As in some other places, at some distance from the church a cave or a niche is seen partly hidden behind a ruined stone wall (fig. 92). Though less known than ˀƎnda Ṗeṭros wä-Ṗawlos, Bet Mukaˁ Mikaˀel was also visited by scholars; however, its manuscript collection has never been attended.
The church possesses a fine Gospel book dating probably to the 18th century (fig. 93a). Among its marginal notes, there is a genealogy of a certain female, called ˀAsgäddu. It is written in Amharic by crude hand but looks not much posterior to the main text. At the end of the note, Bet Muḥa Dǝngǝlät is stated to be “her rǝst” (fig. 93b). Another shorter note refers to the foundation date, saying, “This tabot (i.e. church) was set up on the 6th year after our King ˀIyoas reigned [=1761 A.D.]; the person who set it up was…” Unfortunately, the name following the last words has been carefully washed out. Local tradition relates, vaguely, of Kings Fasil and Gäbrä Maryam (?). The foundation of the church in the period after them but still in the 17th century, by a certain “šǝm Bägunäy”, is also mentioned in the document. A recent (20th-century) copy of the Dǝrsanä Mikaˀel contains a single leaf with a fine (18th-century?) miniature of St. Michael attached to one of the leaves with stitches and protected by textile curtains (fig. 94). Besides, the collection possesses a fine late 17th/early 18th-century manuscript containing the Gädlä Täklä Haymanot (“Vita of Täklä Haymanot”), written by the scribe Wäldä Giyorgis, commissioned by a certain Dämä Krǝstos. The handwriting has a peculiar feature that has been observed elsewhere: the elements of letters commonly slanted to the right appear perpendicular to the ruled lines or even have a slight left slant ( fig. 95). The oldest manuscript of the collection appears to be the Psalter, which can be probably dated to the late 16th or early 17th century, distinguished by the thin, small broadly spaced script ( fig. 96).
F. Anfray, “Nouveaux Sites antiques”, Journal of Ethiopian Studies 12-2, 1973, 13-20.
A. Bausi, “Un indice del Liber Aksumae”, Aethiopica 9, 2006, 102-46.
G. Colin, Le synaxaire éthiopien. Mois de Maskaram, Turnhout 1986 (Patrologia Orientalis 43-3).
Aziz S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia, 8 vols., New York 1991.
R. Cowley, “A Text in Old Amharic”, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 37-3, 1974, 597-607.
D’Andrea et al 2008
C. D’Andrea – A.Manzo – M.J.Harrower – A.L.Hawkins, “The Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite Settlement of text-transform:uppercase ne Tigrai, Ethiopia”, Journal of Field Archaeology 33, 2008, 151-76.
S. Uhlig (ed.), Encyclopaedia Aethiopica. Vol. I: A-C , Wiesbaden 2003; Vol. II: D-Ha, Wiesbaden 2005; Vol. III: He-N, Wiesbaden 2007; Vol. IV: O-W, Wiesbaden 2010.
G. Ellero, “Note sull’Endertà”, in: Idem, Antropologia e storia d’Etiopia. Note sullo Scirè, l’Endertà, i Tacruri e il Uolcaìt, ed. by G. Lusini, with a foreword by G. Fiaccadori, Udine 1995 [reprint from: Rassegna di studi etiopici 1, 1941, 146-72].
Gigar Tesfaye 1974
Gigar Tesfaye, “Reconnaissance de trois eglises antérieures a 1314”, Journal of Ethiopian Studies 12, 2, 1974, 57-76.
Gigar Tesfay 2000
Gigar Tesfay, “Rock Art around the Zalanbesa Area in the Eastern Zone of Tigrai (Ethiopia)”, Annales d’Ethiopie 14, 2000, 89-92.
E. Godet, “Repertoire de sites pre-Axoumites du Tigre (Ethiopie)”, Abbay. Documents Histoire Civilisation Ethiopienne, RCP 230, CNRS 8, 1977, 19-113.
T.L. Kane, Tigrinya–English Dictionary, 2 vols., Springfield, VA 2000.
Leclant – Miquel 1959
J. Leclant – A.Miquel 1959, “Reconnaissances dans l’Agame: Goulo Makeda et Sabéa”, Annales d’Éthiopie 3, 1959, pp. 107-130.
W. Leslau, Comparative Dictionary of Gǝˁǝz (Classical Ethiopic): Gǝˁǝz – English / English – Gǝˁǝz with an Index of the Semitic Roots, Wiesbaden 1987.
Mäṣḥafä qǝddase bä-gǝˁǝzǝnna bä-amarǝñña ,Addis Abäba 1962 E.C.
Mäṣḥafä qedär wä-qännona
Mäṣḥafä qedär wä-qännona 1962 E.C.
R. Plant, “Rock-hewn Churches of the Tigre Province”, Ethiopia Observer 13-3, 1973, 157-268.
R. Sauter, “Églises rupestres au Tigré” , Annales d’Ethiopie 10, 1976, 157-175.
 Dr. Denis Nosnitsin (PI), Dr. Stephane Ancel, Vitagrazia Pisani M.A., Susanne Hummel M.A. (research associates), Magdalena Krzyzanowska (PhD candidate); for some time the team was joined also by doctoral students Sophia Dege (Hamburg) as well as Verena Krebs (Konstanz).
 Mäsärät Haylä Sǝllase acted as field coordinator, Boggalä Täsämma and Haylay Täklay as field assistants; the head of the Agency Käbbädä ˀAmarä Bälay acted as project coordinator.
 Fǝṣṣum Gäbru, the representative of the Eastern Tǝgray Diocese; liqä mäzämməran Kasa, mälakä ḥəywät ˁƎzra from the church offices of Wuqro and Ganta ˀAfäšum, resp., and märigeta Harägäwäyni from the church administration of ˀ Ǝndärta. The field work was opened and concluded by the coordinating meetings in the TCTA and the in the East Tǝgray Diocese with His Grace ˀabunä Maqaryos.
 The collections of ˁAddigrat Zä-Mikaˀel ˀArägawi and ˁAddi Ḉəwa Mikaˀel have not yet been studied.
 Assisted by Mäkwännǝn Ḥagos (TCTA) and a representative of the East Tǝgray Diocese.
 A separate report on restoration activity will be made available online.
 One of the tabots of May ˀ Anbäsa is dedicated to Zärˁa Buruk (commemorated on Ṭərr 13); possibly, it is the tabot from the cave church.
 Also known as ˀabba Ḥəsan.
 S. Report III n. 9.
 The monastic manuscript collection contains his Vita, but the manuscript is quite recentury According to the monks, there was an older copy in the collection, but it was badly damaged, and the present copy was produced to replace it.
 It is to Wäldä Tənśaˀe that the origin of the monastery’s name May ˀAnbäsa (‘Lion’s Water’) is traced. Once the abbot fell ill and asked for water from the place where a lioness and her three cubs lived in a den.
 A tabot dedicated to him is kept in May ˀ Anbäsa; he is commemorated on Mäggabit 16.
 A famous Təgrayan lord, 1847-97 (s. Haggai Erlich, in: EAE I, 211b-213b).
 Ras Mängäša Yoḥannəs, a son of King Yoḥannəs IV, a governor of Təgray 1868-1906 (Tsegay Berhe, in: EAE III, 728a-729b).
 The records of Giovanni Ellero who visited the monastery sometime in late 1930 give a rare opportunity to follow development and changes in the local monastic tradition and context over the span of 80 years (cp. Ellero 1995:80). Remarkably, the role of ras Wäldä Śəllase has been suppressed, and the link between him and mamhər Täklä Haymanot is not remembered. A new element is the story of the massacre by the Oromo-Guttu, which was not reported by Ellero. Today, the important information about the former gwəlt -land and privileges of the community (including recent grants by däǧǧazmač Säbagadis and King Yoḥannəs IV), as well as the role of May ˀ Anbäsa in the ecclesiastic administration, is not relevant and therefore is not remembered. From the description left by Ellero it becomes clear that the monastery has lost a substantial part of its assets: the current number of manuscripts in the monastic collection is far less than “more than 200 codices” reported by Ellero; there are also no traces of the old “tucul” (round church) with a completely painted mäqdäs.
 Close to the stone bridge over Gəwa, said to have been constructed by ras Mängäša and inaugurated in 1963 E.C. Here, the river separates ˀƎndärta from Tämben.
 As in the case of Zärˀa Buruk, the tabot of Yasay is said to have been brought to May ˀAnbäsa.
 Ellero 1995:80.
 Though with minimum of decorative elements, and a remarkable fluctuation in the size of the script: the letters are 10-11mm tall in the initial fols. of Matthew, 11-12 mm in the initial fols. of Mark, 12-13 mm for Luke, 11-12 mm for John, as if the scribe have had some problems with assessment of space or with the availability of parchment for writing.
 Cp. Ellero 1995:80; since the document mentions all four bishops of King Yoḥannəs, probably it was issued when all four bishops were still alive. It is known that the King received the Metropolitan Ṗeṭros in 1881, while one of the bishops accompanying him, Marqos, died already in 1882 (S. Tedeschi, in: Coptic Encyclopaedia IV, 1038); thus the charter might have been written around 1881. An interesting feature of the book is that its pricks do not “mirror” each other; in each quire, they were apparently pierced through four leaves at once, separately for each side, from the upper bifolio of the quire.
 Reportedly, a tabot dedicated to Kiros is preserved in May ˀAnbäsa; this would be a rare case of dedication.
 According to the ownership notes, a few more manuscripts were in possession of Täklä Haymanot.
 One of some 25 Psalter manuscripts of the collection.
 Cowley 1974.
 “Large, very square hand, probably not later than the seventeenth century” (Cowley 1974:597).
 With the handwriting very close to that of the first one, s. .
 In this respect, the presence of only one manuscript of the Miracles of Mary, otherwise very widespread and popular, is also unusual.
 All of them are quite recent; the most recent is the codex with the Vita of Maḥṣäntä Maryam, the hagiographic work so far unknown. The manuscript is kept, in fact, not in May ˀAnbäsa, but in ˀƎnda Mäḥṣun; it is said to have been a copy of an older manuscripts which was badly damaged by fire and now is gone.
 The threads of the sewing have broken in a few codices. Usually the breakage occurs along the joints at the sewing stations where the text block is attached to the boards (especially the upper board). This typical damage initially looks unsubstantial; however, if no measures are undertaken, the text block will disintegrate. Rebinding of one simple codex without leather covering took märigeta Ḥarägäwäyni some three hours. The example was followed by a novice living in the monastery and preparing to take his monastic vow. He mastered the techniques of the chain-stitch sewing while assisting the märigeta and within a few days repaired the sewing of ca. 15 codices.
 Only half of the note is relatively clear: “This (is) the book of Ḫaylä Krəstos, the censer of its cross (?) and the order of the Mass of (the church of) St. Michael which Ḫaylä Krəstos established.” The second part of the note is difficult to understand; it seems to be a liberal interpretation of the 16th-century notes from the same codex (s. n. 32 below).
 The tentative translation of the note, composed in a somewhat confused way and with corrections, is as follows: “This is the beginning of the lineage of Ḫaylä Krəstos. Zär’a Yoḥannəs generated Wäldä Tənśaˀe, Habtä Giyorgis; Habtä Giyorgis generated Wäldä Gäbrəˀel. Seven years after she was captured, Habtä GIyorgis brought her back, and the priest was ˀAbalä Krəstos, her, Wälättä Haymanot, who donated the daily bread so that it might serve them as the guide to the Heavenly Kingdom. Do not forget (to recite) the Pater Noster for her, each of you.”
 The charter can be provisionally translated as follows: “Through what we are writing we announce: from the juniper of Awḥəne, the burial of Gämäˀaśa, (till) Məḥbaˀ [or literally: “hiding place”?] Mäleba is the border. Whoever changes (the border defining it) in a different way, will be excommunicated; and if it happens, he will give a measure of cereals to (the church) of Michael”. The word fäle is missing in the Gəˁəz dictionaries, but the meaning can be assumed from the semantics of the root fäläyä “separate, divide, distinguish”, Leslau 1987:161.
 Dating back to the same time as the Gospel book?
 Cp. another early witness of the work, in EMML no. 3128 (the content of the manuscript of Tahtay Ruba corresponds thus to fols. 2r-94r).
 Thick, nearly square manuscript of small size with text written in relatively big letters is a peculiar codex type (and, in fact, a masterpiece of the Ethiopian manuscript making!) which has not been sufficiently attended to yet.
 By the scribe (priest) ˁAmdä Mikaˀel.
 Parts of the Məˁraf; Dəggwa; Zəmmare; Mäwasəˀt.
 Gulo Mäḵäda is known for its rock art sites (cp. “Fäqada Maryam”,>Report I; among the recent finds, s. Gigar Tesfay 2000). However, it seems that the rock art of Taḥtay Ruba has not been studied (the place was outside the area covered by the Gulo-Makeda Archaeological Project, s. D’Andrea et alii 2008).
 The huge rock of Däbrä Maˁṣo with the church atop is visible from Mäkaˀəlo.
 This information may possibly indicate that a document related to Mäkaˀəlo is included in one of the Gospel books of ˀAksum Ṣəyon.
 Possibly John XVI (1676-1718).
 Contemporary of King Yoḥannəs I (1667-82), he arrived to Ethiopia in 1678 and died in 1699.
 As in a few other cases, a foundational charter is said to be included in a “Golden Gospel” manuscript in ˀAksum. No such document is recorded in the published collection commonly referred to as the Liber Axumae; a place called May Ḍaˁda is mentioned in a charter issued for the church of ˀAmba Śännayt by King Ləbnä Dəngəl (Conti Rossini 1909:31, no. 30) but the identification is uncertain.
 It is, in fact, written in the manuscript twice, similar to the marginal notes of the Səddäyto Gospel book.
 Executed by a certain Gäbrä Mikaˀel who also wrote (in crude, angular script) a short text exhortation on the recto side.
 The locality is described in Leclant - Miquel 1959:110 (s. also Godet 1977:55). Recently, the area was surveyed by the international Gulo-Makeda Archaeological Project (G-MAP), s. D’Andrea et all 2008.
 It is not the first time that the priests of the church with particularly old history did not know any historical tradition and could not tell anything but very common topoi.
 S. Daniel Assefa, in: EAE III, 270a-271a. The version of the text in the manuscript from Säglat is much shorter than the edited text, e.g., Mäṣḥafä qedär wä-qännona…, 1962 E.C.
 Based on the mentions of King Sälomon II (r. 1777-79) in the litanies (fol. 23r) and Metropolitan ˀabunä Yosab elsewhere, fol. 37v (Yosab II; he arrived in Ethiopia in 1770, d. 1803, S. Tedeschi, in: Coptic Encyclopaedia IV, 1030).
 Mäṣḥafä qəddase, Qəddase Ḥawaryat, “Anaphora of the Apostles”, §§63-65, repeated also in other Anaphoras, (Qəddase ˀƎgziˀ, “Anaphora of Our Lord”, §§ 72-74; Qəddase Yoḥannəs Wäldä Nägwädgwad, “Anaphora of John Son of Thunder”, §§ 113-15, etc.). The exact purpose of this addition is not clear so far; in the same form, the passage is also found in the Anaphoras.
 Initially, the person interviewed tried to recall another name, and started with his title, ras. After a few minutes of thinking, he asked other people from ˀƎnda Ḥawaryat and received a hint from them.
 And nearly superseding the cult of such saint as Mäṭaˁ /Libanos.
 Remarkable for the small, broadly spaced letters and the tendency to lesser contrast between thick and thin elements of the signs.
 The Təgrəñña name Qändaˁro was apparently derived from the words qändi daˁro “the chief sycamore” (Kane 2000:1000, 2148).
 According to the priests, a tabot consecrated for the 15th-century female saint Krəstos Śämra (cp. D. Nosnitsin, in: EAE IV, 443b-445a) has been recently introduced into the church, and a copy of her Vita has been obtained.
 Despite the proximity of Däbrä Dammo there have been only relatively recent indications of Zä-Mikaˀel’s veneration in the area around ˁAddigrat including the manuscripts with his Vita (frequently copied together with the Vita of Gäbrä Krəstos / St. Alexis).
 The spiritual genealogy gives a hint to the dating, since is stops shortly after the return of the “(Orthodox) faith” after a 20-years break caused by the “hand of the Franks” (in fact, Catholicism was proclaimed official religion by King Susənyos in 1621, but the Orthodoxy was restituted already after 11, not 20, years).
 The handwriting is difficult to date but it does not seem much posterior to the main text. The genealogy starts with the Biblical King Solomon and Mənilək but then springs to Dənsaǧan (= Dəgnaǧan, s. S. Munro-Hay, in: EAE II, 125) who is followed by Mäsobä Wärq (known also from the treatise Bäˁlä nägäśt). Among her sons is Ǧan Śəyyum whose son is ˀArbe (e.g., Ḥarbay, s. G. Fiaccadori, in: EAE II, 1031a-32a), He is followed by a few names of the Zagwe kings. In other words, here, the Zagwe line is not separated from the Solomonic line.
 Second half or late 16th century? The Ethiopic signs for 6 and 7 are written in the typical archaic manner and are difficult to distinguish.
 The text contained in the manuscript is highly different from the published/edited versions (Guidi – Colin, Budge, s. also the recent Ethiopian church edition) in terms of the content (though there are apparently many common commemorations), language and rendering of personal and place-names. Cp. the commemoration note for the translatio feast of ˀAqlimos “and the martyrs like him” on the 12th of Mäskäräm which has no parallel in the edited text (Colin 1986).
 Local priests indicated that a written document concerning the foundation (a land charter or a historiographic narrative?) is inscribed in one of the books of Golˁa Yoḥannəs (s.>Report III).
 According to the votive inscription, the basket was donated in 1930/31 E.C.
 Some images of the manuscripts of May Raza can be found in the database Mäzgäbä Seelat. According to E. Balicka-Witakowska, she visited the church around 2004 and inspected the manuscripts but it was not possible to view the church inside. So far, no references to the church have come up in any historical sources. There is a slight possibility that May Raza may be identical to ˁAd Raza of the Liber Axumae (cp. Bausi 2006:134).
 The provisional transcription and translation of the inscription read as follows: ም <…> ምር * ዛ ቲ፡ ደብረ፡ ማርያም፡ ደብረ፡ * መድኅኒት፡ ተሐንፀት፡ በእደ፡ ክ * ቡር፡ ወልዑል፡ ዘመንፈስ፡ ቅዱስ፡ * ወድኅረሂ፡ በ ፷ ፡ ወ ፩ ዓመት፡ ዘአስአላ * ፡ ክቡር ወልዑል፡ ኪዳነ፡ ማርያም፡* በ፫፻፡ ወ፶፡ ብር፡ በ፲፻፡ ወ፰፲፡ ፹፡ * ወ፪፡ ዓመተ፡ ምሕረት፡ በዘመነ*፡ ማርቆስ፡ ትኩኖ፡ መድኅኒተ፡ ሥጋ፡ ወነፍስ፡ አሜን፡ ወአሜን “…(?) This church of Mary, Däbrä Mädḫanit, was built through the hand of the honorable and exalted Zä-Mänfäs Qəddus, and after 61 years the one who caused it be painted (is) the honorable and exalted Kidanä Maryam, for 350 Bərr, in 1882 “Year of Mercy”, in the year of Mark, so that it might be for him the salvation of his flesh and soul. Amen and Amen”.Kidanä Maryam is the baptismal name of ras Səbḥat ˀArägawi.
 One of the manuscripts at May Raza (on paper) contains a unique Amharic letter from the painter, ˀaläqa Śahlu, to the commissioner of the murals, ras Səbḥat ˀArägawi. Here is the provisional translation of the letter: “May this (writing) reach the font-size: 10.0pt; honourable and exalted head of the governors who was chosen from his mother’s womb, beloved in his deeds, däǧǧazmač Səbhat Läˀab. May the Saviour of the World give you health and protect you and may the Mother of God not separate from you. May the Angel of Mercy protect you. May Täklä Haymanot be for you the helper and the refuge. I have spent time buying grain for myself with the money that you gave me, in your wealth. I have not obtained the grain which you ordered (be given) for me. The people of Däbrä Mädhanit became sad, together with me, since there is no one that would give me (grain). And now may you accomplish the work of your generosity to me. As it is (commonly) said, a priest who did not have a dinner cannot celebrate Mass with his heart. Having said this, ˀaläqa Sahlu, the painter of Däbrä Mädhanit, your church, is bowing (in front of you).”
 The church acquired the manuscript possibly along with the tabot of Täklä Haymanot.
 S. Gigar Tesfaye 1974:57-76. In his publication he provided a photograph of an old church of Säwne which stands at some distance from the site where the books and paraphernalia are currently kept. The site was also visited by E. Balicka-Witakowska and M. Gervers in 2004, and a number of photographs can be found in their database Mäzgäbä Seelat (under “Säwne”).
 A small church school (for nəbab, or reading) is run by young teacher Dawit, a native of Goǧǧam.
 Fortunately, the document (not an integral codex but a few small-size parchment double leaves) was photographed by Gigar Tesfaye and printed in his article. Containing “the statutes” of the church (including the reference to the holders of rim-land) in Amharic with passages in Gəˁəz, the document is a valuable witness since only a few pieces of the genre are known so far. The source provides interesting data but it should be considered with some caution: despite the reference to King Fasilädäs (Gigar Tesfaye 1974:59) who reigned in 1632-67 neither the features of the handwriting nor the language and style of the document can be supportive of dating it back to the 17th century Rather, it is likely that a 19th/20th-century ecclesiastic märigeta Gəday (who mentioned himself explicitly in the document) elaborated on an older tradition.
 Reminiscent of Däbrä Bərhan Śəllase in Gondär mentioned in the document (Gigar Tesfaye 1974:59)?
 Gigar Tesfaye 1976:59, 67 (fol. 1r).
 Photographs of both items can be found in the database Mazgaba Seelat (s. above).
 Gigar Tesfay was more positive about the influence of Gundä Gunde in the area; the name of Subuḥa appears, indeed, in the variant of the Solomonic legend about the Queen of Sheba and her son Mənilək elaborated in Gundä Gunde hagiographic works, but refers rather to the ancient connection of the area to the ˀIrob people.
 S. note 74 above.
 As a residence of a ruler or as a church building (the presence of another small stone house nearby is reminiscent of the function of the betleḥem, the house where Eucharistic bread is prepared). In front of the southern wall of the church there is an old grave looking like a shaft tomb, still partly covered from above.
 However, only by means of this indirect reference it is possible to connect the site with earlier (preliminary) studies: Anfray 1973:14-15, map and fig. color:red (the reference repeated without any additional information under “Lahlen” in Godet 1977:49; another references provided there, Lepage 1973:44, could not be retrieved and confirmed). The publications contain practically no information (a description of the way to the site, the administrative district in which it is located; photos with general views) which would help identifying and finding the site in the local landscape.
 Mentioning Patriarch of Alexandria John XVI (1676-1718), Metropolitan Sinoda (arrived to Ethiopia in 1678, died in 1699), King Yoḥannəs I (r. 1667-82).
 > “The souls” of his parents, father Wäldä Maryam Gäbrä Mäsqäl and mother Wälättä Muse, are mentioned elsewhere in the supplication formulas.
 Could Wäldä Śəllase be the baptismal (or Christian) name of blatta Kasa?
 Qälaqəl is pl. of Təgrəñña qälqäl, meaning, among others, “peak of a mountain affording a good view” (Kane 2000:889b).
 As it happened to some other rock-hewn churches. This circumstance makes the access to the historical structures and their study particularly difficult.
 As Säwnä and Wälwalo, the church of Qälaqəl was visited by E. Balicka-Witakowska and M. Gervers in 2004, and a number of photographs of this item were included in the database Mäzgäbä Seelat (s. under “Qelaqel”).
 King ˀIyasu mentioned in the headings of the Gospels might be, then, ˀIyasu II (r. 1730-55).
 Moreover, it mentions seven other “brothers” (his brothers or sons?): ˀAli, Nagəś, Gädˀališ, Yoḥannəs, Səbḥat, Ḥafani, Baylul.
 This pointing to Gondär as the provenance for the second year Synaxarion part of Qälaqəl (the first part is written by a completely different hand). In the course of the describing work of the project, it was clarified that the Synaxarion of Däbrä Gännät Kidanä Məḥrät Mäkodˁä was written in the time of King Yosṭos (1711-16).
 The only, very brief description was printed in Plant 1970:232 (no. 40, with the name transcribed erroneously as “Hankorda”; the same on the map in Plant 1985), cp. Sauter 1976:163, nos. 1018-19. Some years ago the site was visited by M. Gervers and E. Balicka-Witakowska, and a number of photos were placed on the web-site Mazgaba Seelat (“Hangoda”). Today, the access to the old rock-hewn structure church has become quite difficult since the newly built structure (that substituted for the old “narthex” mentioned by R. Plant) effectively transformed the old church into the sanctuary (mäqdäs), the area strictly reserved only for the consecrated priests and deacons (cp. note 82).
 They referred to it as a possible former abode of the monks. It could have been the remains of the cave-church dedicated to ˀabba Sälama, mentioned by Plant (1970:232) and deserted since many years already by that time.
 There is a traditional church school at Ḥangoda, with different subjects taught by mamhər ˀIsayyəyyas and the exegesis of the Old Testament taught by mälakä məḥ rät Ḥagos Abraha, the head of the church.
 Names of further individuals are mentioned in this and other manuscripts. Their identification will require some time but can yield additional information on the history of the church and its collection.
 W. Witakowski, in: EAE IV, 652b-653b.
 Most probably ˀIyasu II (r. 1730-55) is meant and the year is 1748 A.D.
 Ca. 100 churches are registered by the wäräda ecclesiastic administration (bet kəhnät).
 Indeed, according to the era of the martyrs, year 30 falls upon 1453-54, i.e. within the reign of King Zärˀa Yaˁqob (1434-68).
 The folklore etymology of the name explains it as an Amharic expression sənq aṭṭa, “there was no supply”, said when a royal army passed the area and had food shortage.
 ˀIyasu I (r. 1682-1706) or ˀIyasu II (r. 1730-55)?
 Also Bet Muḥa.